With one episode to go we knew that things wouldn’t wrap up this week and with the cliff-hanger from episode 10 it was pretty clear that they were planning on one last dramatic push before we could finally get to a conclusion. Still, the way the public opinion whips around in this has gone from charmingly similar to social media waves in the real world to just outright insane as they seem to instantly change their mind about Hu Li based on whatever is said most recently.
What I really wanted to know is how Kong Que and his record company think they will get away with what they’ve just said given the clear paper and money trail that would show them up for lying in an instant. And even if the public does accept their story, how does Kong Que think that will actually help him. All it has done is admit that he can’t sing well enough to debut so his career is dead regardless, unless he wants to try for soap opera actor because he’d be pretty good at that.
Meanwhile Chuyun is also up the creek with her own group member black mailing her with a photo to get the solo debut. Again, I don’t know how the malicious member thinks it will help her in the long run given she’s nowhere near popular enough to get a solo debut. Even if she does debut, and the company still haven’t agreed, it is unlikely to go well.
And just in case all this drama isn’t enough, let’s throw in Hu Li’s mother taking a turn for the worse just as Hu Li has found his resolve to sing in the competition. Next week is going to be full of drama and I can’t help but want things to end well. This story is cheesy as anything and yet it is working and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed following along with Hu Li.
Chuyun’s emergency call at the end of last week turned out to be a sick pianist and guess who she has in mind to replace him. Of course, this being Voice of Fox, this is all some elaborate set-up to try to promote Hu Li and have him find his love of music again, but the positive change in Hu Li is pretty extraordinary to watch.
I think what makes this really special is for once the childhood friend isn’t getting shafted by a narrative. Chuyun originally had little presence but now her story and her struggles within her group are every bit as important to the overall narrative as Hu Li’s. These two are great together and for each other and each one of them has inspired the other and helped them when they are down. It is a great dynamic and one that I’ve found really impressive throughout the series.
Also, Chuyun’s song was amazing.
However, when someone rises up there’s always someone who wants to bring them down. It’s too bad that in this case it is Chuyun’s own group members. Another round of dealing with social media fallout later and things seem like they are on track. But there’s another character in this story who has yet to have his last hand played so I guess we’re throwing one more obstacle onto Hu Li’s path and I guess we’ll see how that goes next week.
Episode 10 did however find its pacing again which is good news after episode 9 kind of packed in more than it could actually deal with.
This week finally reveals the accident that put Hu Li’s mother in a coma and gave him the ‘burn’ on his face. I know that is supposed to be a scar but honestly it mostly looks like a tattoo or poorly applied make-up. Anyway, for the first time I really felt they rushed over what should have been a fairly emotional note in the story. And it is no wonder. Given they also crammed Kong Que’s angst-ridden back story into the same episode.
Now both of these things are important given Hu Li has to overcome his tragedy if he’s actually going to take to the stage and that Kong Que is getting involved in some scheme with his father that is sure to be bad news. However, given the build up, the rushed through delivery, while serviceable and getting the idea across, wasn’t exactly getting the emotional impact across with it. Which is a real shame given so far Voice of Fox has done a relatively good job at building up and conveying emotional moments despite its short run time.
Yet if you think they were stopping there, think again. They also crammed in an interview with Chuyun where she essentially gets fans back on board despite her knowing about Hu Li. This enrages her group member, who is more or less just consumed with jealousy at this point and has some really poor reasoning skills, and so a rumour is started on social media that Chuyun is going to go solo. In the midst of the social media fallout from that Hu Li receives a call from Chuyun and then the episode ends.
It’s a lot for an eleven minute episode and a lot of the nuances don’t quite hit their mark this week. That said, I’m fully on board with this story at this point given the build up so far so I’m just hoping this isn’t a sign that they are going to self-destruct in a rush to get to the end.
Last week saw the dramatic conclusion of Hu Li’s career as a ghost singer when his presence was revealed live on TV. This week, idol fans do what they do best in this sort of media (and unfortunately occasionally in real life), they went a little crazy. Threatening to beat him up, stalking him on social media, and generally being as unpleasant as humanly possible, Hu Li is driven into a corner thick and fast.
And does the company who hired him do anything resembling damage control? Yep. They fire him, charge him for damages, fire the actual performer too (and I’m guessing he’s the board of director’s son or something from that exchange), and pretty much hang them out to dry. But that’s cool. They have a plan. Hu Li will be desperate for money so he’ll come back and write music for them again.
Of course, that’s assuming he doesn’t take a header off the roof and as we return to where the series began you seriously wonder if he will or not. What I liked was that he wasn’t feeling excessively sorry for himself. It was more he felt like he was causing trouble for those around him, including his friend Chuyun, and he had run out of options to improve the situation. So while it might be accused of melodrama, Voice of Fox feels like its built up to this moment sufficiently to carry the scene.
And then, because it isn’t the end just yet, Sky sends Hu Li another message (why Hu Li keeps talking to Sky or paying him any attention is beyond me at this point). Of course, this is where the episode ends leaving us wanting the next part of the story as they intended and I don’t really know that this is needed at this juncture. I’m hooked. I don’t need these to be continued baited endings to keep me coming back.
Still, this one remains one of my surprise hits for the season and while it may not be able to go toe to toe with some more notable titles, it remains fairly impressive for what it is.
There was a moment somewhere during episode 6 of Voice of Fox, and it probably came close to the end of the episode where the titular ‘trap’ was revealed where I realised just how into this anime I actually am. Yes, there have been coincidences and silly moments peppered along the trail, but at its core, Voice of Fox has been driving to this climatic moment since episode 1 and it delivered it with an emotional weight some other anime series couldn’t have mustered even with twenty minute episodes by season’s end.
Six episodes of barely over ten minutes each and several moments lost entirely to comedy (which has mostly worked in an eye-rolling kind of manner) and singing (which has been glorious and can we please have more). In just the time left, Voice of Fox (or Kitsune no Koe) has made me love Hu Li and feel dearly for his predicament. We still don’t even know the full story behind said predicament but we know enough to care, and boy has this anime made me care.
With the fake out reveal of Sky, Hu Li’s desperation, and then the final reveal this week, all beautifully rounded out by the devastating silence and then isolated sound of the fox mask hitting the floor, every part of this episode did exactly what it needed to in order to carry the audience to that moment. It genuinely hurt to watch and the desperation to give Hu Li a hug was very real as was the desire for the next episode right now.
This is an anime that hasn’t gotten anywhere near enough attention this season. I’m not saying it will work for everyone. It is idol focused, it is a short form anime, the animation isn’t amazing and the story is hardly a work of art, but it is a seriously competent effort and what it has delivered has been consistently good and right now I’m really feeling that last episode.
Hopefully the conclusion can be as good as the build up to this moment was because so far Voice of Fox has managed to be a surprising delight.
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